'WADA ban will not affect Russian part of Euro 2020’: LOC chief Sorokin says St. Petersburg games safe despite sanctions
Russia's Euro 2020 Organizing Committee chief Alexey Sorokin says tournament matches held in St. Petersburg and the 2021 UEFA Champions League final in the city will not be affected by the 4-year WADA ban on Russia.
READ MORE: Russia banned from major sporting events for 4 years
On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Executive Committee unanimously voted to uphold previously recommended sanctions against Russia levied in response to alleged manipulation of Moscow laboratory data, relating to Russian Anti-Doping Agency's (RUSADA) reinstatement terms.Also on rt.com FIFA aiming to 'clarify extent of WADA decision regarding football' amid Russia World Cup ban fear - spokesperson to RT
The 4-year ban ruling prohibits the country from participating in major international events during that time, which would include the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year, the Qatar 2022 football World Cup, and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
However, Sorokin told RT that the sanctions will not affect matches at next summer's Euro 2020 football tournament, held for the first time ever continentally across Europe, and of which four matches are scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg.
“Well, we quite expected that these sanctions will not affect the Russian part of the upcoming Euro (2020),” Sorokin said in an interview with RT.
“First of all, it’s a continental tournament, not a world tournament, not a multi-sport tournament. We have previously been let to believe by WADA officials that the sanctions will not concern Euro for these reasons.
READ MORE: No flag, no anthem: What the WADA ban means for Russia
"In addition to that, for many years now Russian football has not been doping-prone. We have been extensively tested through many world football competitions. And there hasn’t been a single case of positive testing,” he added.Also on rt.com Putin slams WADA ban as ‘politically biased collective punishment’ of Russian athletes
The Euro 2020 games in St. Petersburg are scheduled to take place at Krestovsky Arena, a prominent venue at the Russia 2018 World Cup, and include two of Russia's group games on June 13 and 17, against Belgium and Finland respectively.
The team will play a further confrimed group game against Denmark in Copenhagen, and the tournament returns to the 65,000-seater stadium for a quarter-final on July 3.
Sorokin it would be near impossible to relocate the matches with just six months until the tournament, and stressed Russia's players have never been implicated in doping, nor had any issues with WADA. He also confirmed the 2021 UEFA Champions League final, also held in St. Petersburg, was not likely to be moved.
“I can only speculate that there are two major factors which account for the fact that those competitions (Euro 2020 and 2021 UEFA Champions League Final) will not be concerned,” Sorokin said.
“One is that these are all continental competitions, and the other is that it’s clearly stated in what WADA announced that any competition may be removed unless it’s impossible to do so for legal or organizational reasons. And it’s clear that in terms of Euro (2020) we are so deep into it.”
“But the main reason is that first of all it’s a continental tournament. And we have always had a good interaction with FIFA and UEFA in terms of doping matters,” he added.
Russia have yet to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but could be banned from playing under their national flag or performing their national anthem at the tournament in accordance with WADA restrictions should they do so.
In reponse, Sorokin suggested that national players be allowed to play for Russia in qualifying events, as qualification is completed on a continental basis and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of UEFA.
“Well again, I can only present my own my personal opinion,” Sorokin said. “I think qualification for Qatar 2022 is within the competence of UEFA, and it represents a continental part, because it’s under the umbrella of UEFA.
"So each confederation is responsible for its own qualification before we reach the final part which is in Qatar. So this follows the same logic by WADA: it’s a continental competition, it’s not a multisport competition. So I can only personally presume that it will be exempt from what we are reading right now concerning sanctions.”
On Monday, a FIFA spokesman confirmed to RT that FIFA were in contact with WADA in an attempt to bring clarity over the decision's bearing on World Cup football.Also on rt.com ‘We'll do everything in our power for atheletes to compete under the national flag’ – Russian Olympic Committee head